Carla Chahrour & Diana Farah
As the coronavirus outbreak spreads, global supply chains have been disrupted, stores have closed and fashion shows have been cancelled, leaving the fashion industry rendered idle by the pandemic.
Now, luxury fashion labels, conglomerates and designers are stepping up help overcome shortages of medical protective equipment in the countries hit hardest by the virus.
A mask being machine-sewn at a Prada factory in Tuscany, Italy. (Prada)
Italian luxury fashion house Prada S.p.A. specializing in leather handbags, travel accessories, shoes, perfumes and other fashion accessories, shifts its production lines to meet needs arising from the coronavirus crisis.
Prada announced itscommitment to aid in combating the spread of coronavirus on March 23 through reducing shortages in medical apparel such as face masks and overalls.
The label revealed that it is set to produce 110,000 masks and 80,000 medical overalls that will be allocated to healthcare personnel by April 6.
This initiative comes after a request for assistance from the Tuscany Region.
All of the items are being manufactured in their factory located in Montone, Italy, which was kept open for this purpose.The masks and overalls are being delivered to healthcare personnel around the region on a daily basis.
The label also thanks “the support of a network of Italian external suppliers” for their assistance in accomplishing this initiative.
Additionally, Prada has already donated medical equipment to a number of Milan’s biggest hospitals, in addition to donating two complete resuscitation and intensive care units to three of Milan’s hospitals, which include, Sacco, Vittore Buzzi, and San Raffaele.
Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga
Luxury brands Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga have started using their workshops to manufacture surgical masks for the health workers on the frontline of the coronavirus (COVID-19) battle instead of luxury clothing.
The fashion labels’ parent company The Kering Group said in a statement that they would by three million masks the French health service imported from China to “contribute to the fight against Covid-19.”
The organization also pledged to make a donation to the Institut Pasteur biomedical research institute, according to BBC.
The Paris-based company said: “The French workshops of Kering’s Houses Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent are preparing to manufacture masks while complying with the strictest health protection measures for their staff members, with production getting under way as soon as the manufacturing process and materials have been approved by the relevant authorities.”
Estée Lauder Companies
The Estée Lauder Companies announced on March 23 that it will begin assisting in the production hand-sanitizerin order to help fight coronavirus andrelieve shortages that have resulted in problems for people working in health care.
"The Estée Lauder Companies is proud to contribute to the broader COVID-19 relief efforts by reopening our Melville manufacturing facility this week to produce hand sanitizer for high-need groups and populations, including front-line medical staff," the company said in a statement.
In addition to producing hand sanitizer, the Estée Lauder Companies Inc. and its corporate foundation, The Estée Lauder Companies Charitable Foundation (ELCCF), have provided funding toseveral organizationsin different countries.
In China $800,000 was provided to relief effortswhich support the Red Cross Society of China, Shanghai Charity Foundationand Give2Asia. Another $1.4 million in-kind donationswas offered to support front line medical staff.
In the United States, a $75 million fundin New York City(where the company is headquartered) to support the establishment of The NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund, which providescritical support for New York City’s vital social services and cultural community organizations.
Globally, a $2 million grant was awarded tothe international humanitarian medical non-governmental organisation Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to supporttheir efforts around the world and their response to coronavirus inhighly impacted and under-resourced countries.
The French luxury group LVMH, which owns Dior, Fendi, Louis Vuitton and Givenchy,said on Sunday that it would begin producing sanitizing hand gel at three of its perfume and cosmetics sites in France, for distribution to French hospitals fighting the country's coronavirus outbreak.
“From this Monday, Parfums Givenchy, alongside with Parfums Christian Dior & Guerlain, manufacture & provide free hydroalcoholic gel in large quantities to the public health authorities.
LVMH Perfumes & Cosmetics will continue to honor this commitment for as long as necessary,” the company said in a statement on Instagram.
Twelve tons will be produced as soon as this week, instead of the usual Christian Dior, Guerlain and Givenchy scents and make-up usually made at the three factories.
They will be delivered "at no charge" to French health authorities, in particular the 39 public hospitals in Paris, the group said.
"I wish to thank LVMH for acting so quickly: They made us this offer on Saturday night at 9:00 pm (2000 GMT), and confirmed it on Sunday," Paris hospitals chief Martine Hirsch told AFP.
Paris hospitals have not yet run out of gel but supplies are "strained," a spokeswoman for the Paris hospital system said, adding that other companies have also said they are ready to donate supplies.
Fears of catching the new coronavirus have sparked a run on hand gel across France, with many pharmacies restricting clients to one small bottle per person.
The government has issued a decree limiting prices after reports some retailers were trying to make extra profit from would-be buyers, with a 100-millilitre bottle now costing no more than three euros ($3.30).
Producers across France say they have been hiring workers to meet the soaring demand, as authorities urge stringent hand cleaning among measures to curtail the outbreak.
American multinational beauty company Coty Inc., which is behind makeup and fragrance brands such as CoverGirl and Calvin Klein, have also pivoted their production line. Coty Inc. announced on March 18 that it will be using its manufacturing sites to provide free hydro-alcoholic gel to medical and emergency services, in an effort to fight against the novel coronavirus.
"We stay close to our communities during these exceptionally challenging times," the company said in a statement released on Instagram.
Despite the crippling effects COVID-19 coronavirus has and continues to have on the fashion industry, leaders in the field have converted fragrance distilleries to hydroalcoholic gel (sanitizer) manufacturing sites, and clothing factories to medical apparel production units.
In doing so they have found a philanthropic way to utilize their funds, influential platforms, and production lines to assist in the global fight against the virus, which has already taken the lives of 21,313 people worldwide, as of March 26.